Hawke's Bay United drew first blood but that only spurred Auckland City FC to come back with more venom as the visitors succumbed to their third loss on the trot during the national summer league campaign.
Player/co-coach Bill Robertson made the Thirsty Whale Bay United's intentions clear with a header after latching on to a Liam Schofield cornerkick in the 32nd minute but they slipped to 2-1 at halftime before losing 4-2 in the week 10 of the premiership in Auckland on Sunday.
But Kiwitea Street came alive three minutes later when the referee deemed Bay striker Ihaia Delaney to have handled the ball in a defensive wall following a free kick. Myer Bevan stepped up to drill the ball past goal keeper Ruben Parker Hanks to level 1-all.
• Live A-League football updates: Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
• Football: Wellington Phoenix's unbeaten A-League run ends with loss to Brisbane Roar
• Live A-League football updates: Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers
• Football: Another record falls as Liverpool successfully march on
That only added to a four-minute frenetic spell with Auckland skipper Angel Berlanga nudging the Blues 2-1 up in the 37th minute.
However, the Bay had equalised 2-all through latest signing and home boy Angus Kilkolly on a counter attack after Sho Goto relayed a pass turned in from the right flank not long after play had resumed.
Bevan claimed his brace against the run of play, catching the Bay defence on the hop to crisply push the ball past Hanks for a 3-2 lead in the 65th minute.
Cam Howieson, "with an absolute screamer", according to the Auckland City FC Twitter feed, had put this game to bed in the 90th minute although co-coach Chris Greatholder said Bay United had pushed high up in search for an equaliser to concede.
"Yes, the result doesn't show the real picture at the end of the day, unfortunately, but that's what our season has been like a little," Greatholder lamented after Bay United lost 4-0 to Team Wellington on the road in the previous round and 2-1 away to Hamilton Wanderers.
He said the penalty kick was, as always, a ref's call but that shouldn't detract from Bay United's inability to eke out a win.
Greatholder felt his men had given a really good account of themselves with intensity, even when out of possession, to create numerous chances but not scoring more goals against a franchise he said was the best he had encountered in his 15 years with the premiership. The depth on Auckland City's bench also spoke volumes of their campaign and commitment.
"We've got to stop talking about it and do the business now, I suppose," he said before hosting the Wellington Phoenix Reserves at Park Island, Napier, on Sunday next week. "We were unlucky again but I don't want to play the sob story because we've got to go and get some wins now."
Bay United's flight from HB Regional Airport in Eskview was delayed, Greatholder suspected, due to bird strike this morning.
They had made it to the venue by 3pm and had asked the ref for an extension of time but it was declined.
"We were okay and reduced the time to warm up but all of that had no impact on the game because we were ready to go."
In other matches at the weekend, Tasman United thumped Southern United 5-0, Eastern Suburbs steam rolled Christchurch United 6-1, Hamilton Wanderers pipped Team Wellington 1-0, Waitakere United edged out Wellington Phoenix Reserves 4-3.